isolating the queen in a booming hive - just looking for any possible drawbacks
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  1. #1
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    Default isolating the queen in a booming hive - just looking for any possible drawbacks

    I'm in southwest Ohio. Dandelions and fruit trees in bloom now. Warm today but off and on nights in the 30s for the next week. Marginally flying weather. Bees seem to be bringing in some nectar.

    I want to grow some new queens in a booming hive. It's got a deep and three mediums, with bees/brood in all boxes. Is there any drawback right now to put a queen excluder in the middle of the hive, (knowing there's eggs/brood both above and below) to give them time to make some queen cells? Ideal would be to move the queen to another box separate from this hive but I don't want to spend so much time looking for her in such a populous hive.

    I notched some egg cells to help with drawing out a queen cell, but only one small section. I'm thinking that even if temps go down into the low 30s for a couple of nights, the bees can still cluster even with the q.e. dividing the brood. But what might I be missing? I don't want to ruin this strong hive.

    (last comment - I do kind of see everything in beekeeping as experiment...)

    Thanks for any input.

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  3. #2
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    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
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    Default Re: isolating the queen in a booming hive - just looking for any possible drawbacks

    I am not the guy to answer your specific question but I would be concerned that if you did it that way they will still be able to swarm and it sounds like they could be building up to do just that. How much room does she have to lay? No empty comb above if all three boxes have brood so that will enhance their swarm pressure with nectar coming in strong. J

  4. #3
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    Default Re: isolating the queen in a booming hive - just looking for any possible drawbacks

    Simply dividing the colony with a queen excluder won't necessarily make the bees draw queen cells. It takes more than that to trigger a sense of queen-loss.

    Likewise just notching some young larvae in an otherwise queenright hive isn't going to give them a hint. They'll likely just repair the damage to the cells and carry on.

    Using a queen excluder (or two) to divide the hive into two sections will assist you in finding her, as she will be found in the only part with eggs after three days. I suppose you could gradually keep dividing the sections down, box by box, until you only had one to look in. The risk there, however, is that you will crowd her into a space with too-little room for expansion of the brood area and prompt a swarm.

    A better option, I think, would be using a Snelgrove board to divide the colony. One part will inevitably be queenless and will make queen cells. In just a few days, it's easy to tell which is which, even if you don't know where she is at the outset. You can then divvy up the frames with cells into separate nucs and re-jigger things however you want them. And you will have only a portion of the colony to look through to find her, should you still want to.

    And from your description they are likely to be on a swarm path anyway, so having a SB on hand may be useful as it is the only easy and reliable way to stop a swarm where there are already charged queen cells.

    But hoping you can get them to start and develop cells in an undivided booming hive is probably wishful thinking, at least as long as they have a laying queen on the job, and they know it.

    Nancy

  5. #4
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    Default Re: isolating the queen in a booming hive - just looking for any possible drawbacks

    Sure, beekeepers do it all the time. In three days you'll know which half the queen is in. Just make sure you have an upper entrance so that drones can get out as they cannot go through a queen excluder.
    Zone 5B

  6. #5
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    Default Re: isolating the queen in a booming hive - just looking for any possible drawbacks

    Interesting. I saw it mentioned here on another thread that a queen excluder will be enough. Before that, I thought I needed a double screen divider (so they can't touch antenna or move across the divider) It's too early for swarming. Not enough nectar yet. No backfilling of brood nest. Just building up nicely.

  7. #6
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    Feb 2006
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    Massillon, Ohio
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    Default Re: isolating the queen in a booming hive - just looking for any possible drawbacks

    Do you already have mature drones flying? I'm north of you in the state but I'm wondering if it might be just a bit early for this, especially with the delayed spring we've had. We are a couple weeks behind the normal spring cycles up here.
    To everything there is a season....

  8. #7
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    Default Re: isolating the queen in a booming hive - just looking for any possible drawbacks

    Thanks JC. Good point about the upper entrance! I'll make sure the opening is big enough for drones.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: isolating the queen in a booming hive - just looking for any possible drawbacks

    This hive had drones over a month ago! It's been a crazy uneven buildup. But not enough nectar for them to be drawing out foundation yet. I put in a frame of foundation in each of the boxes to help open the brood nest a week ago and they haven't done anything with them yet. I 'm now thinking it's a bit dicey - whether there's enough nectar coming in to keep the colony well fed. It's borderline. I do see some small patches of new nectar, but this is a big hive.... Lots of bees flying. It's these returning cold spells and if it's not cold it's raining. Interspersed with a few decent days. Maybe they're just bringing enough in to break even now.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: isolating the queen in a booming hive - just looking for any possible drawbacks

    Karen,

    Your first instinct was correct, you need a double screen/Snelgrove board to keep them from spreading the QMP amongst themselves, and thus prompt a sense of queenlessness in one part or the other. Since the worker bees can easily go through a QEx, they will still be able to antennate each other and spread the QMP around.

    If you do use a QEx to help find the queen, check it every three days, until you locate her. Blocking her off from room to lay will put your bees in the trees.

    Nancy

  11. #10
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    Default Re: isolating the queen in a booming hive - just looking for any possible drawbacks

    Thanks. Good suggestion, Nancy.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: isolating the queen in a booming hive - just looking for any possible drawbacks

    You say you want to make a bunch if queens from a booming hive. Why? What are going to do with them? Make Nucs? Make a couple of strong singles? Sell the queens? How you make them really depends on what you're going to do with them. I can tell you how to make 10 Nucs out of that strong a hive - but is that what you want?

  13. #12
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    Default Re: isolating the queen in a booming hive - just looking for any possible drawbacks

    Swarmhunter:I lost three hives over winter, mainly from inattentiveness on my part. I want to make three new colonies. And maybe a nuc to hold as a backup to reinforce in case of any this -year losses. In the past, I've always made splits, and have caught a afew swarms. Am now interested in the approach of letting a strong colony make queen cells, since they have more resources and can thus make stronger queens. I never knew that in the past when I made a split with several frames, and they did okay but this seems like an approach worth trying.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: isolating the queen in a booming hive - just looking for any possible drawbacks

    Ok Thank-you. What you want to do is get your deadout equipment ready to except a strong Nuc . The best way to divide this hive up is to find the queen- I know- I know -Get some help if you need to . It's the best way to make the most and strongest queen cells. Put the queen in a Nuc or a well stocked single(frames of brood and feed and a couple shakes of bees). Move her to a location 3 miles away for at least a couple of days. Go back into the original hive and NOTCH (Mel Dissoelkoen technique). Very simple! You can do the notching in all three boxes in a half hour. They'll make queens cells even if you don't notch but the cells overall will be a higher quality if you do the notching. close up the original hive.
    8 days later- go in original hive- have all your original deadout equipment ready. Start dividing up resources . you are going to have different size frames because you have deeps and meds. this will make dividing up a little tricky but I'll bet you'll have 20 queen cells some on deeps and some on meds. to work with. Divide with 1/4 of the resources in each box. Each of the boxes has to have at least one Queen cell (2 is better) of course. Be gentle with the queen cell frames! Close up and leave these hives in the same general vicinity that the original hive was. Put an X on top of the frames that have the queen cells . In a week check these frames to see if virgins have hatched. In2-3 weeks check for eggs and brood.
    Good Luck! If you learn to do what I just explained- You'll never buy another bee ever again.
    Let me know how it goes.

  15. #14
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    Default

    If you want to make cells. Ide graft a bar with jzbz cups. It's really not that hard. Just pull the queen out in a small split, find some larva, graft and put em in the center of brood core. Do a quick check 1-2 days later. If they didn't take, regraft again. You also need to go thru and find superceder cells they made if your intial grafts didn't take.

    I've had mixed results with notching. It works decently with honey comb. On brood comb you'll tear the comb up a bit and bees don't seem to like building on brood comb. I've had bees not even interested in whole frames of notches


    PS My strongest hives started making swarm cells in Louisville this week....even after I put honey supers on in mid March. I found 4 out of 22 hives with 3 day old larva. The queens actually started laying eggs in cups 2.5 weeks ago but I'm guessing the workers aborted cell production due to cold weather. About 3/4 of my hives have cups made waiting. So not too much longer for you.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: isolating the queen in a booming hive - just looking for any possible drawbacks

    Certainly not far from you. my strongest hives have been making swarm cups as of last week, but haven't laid into them yet. If you give the hive another week or two, they will probably be well on their way to swarming, and swarm QC are usually very high quality. You can then split with those. If you want them to start this weekend, which our local forecast looks good for, you will need to get that queen separate from the hive, either double screened board, or pull her out into a nuc. A bit of work, but you could also take the mediums off, shake each frame onto the deep, put the QE on the deep, and put the mediums back on. The queen will be in the deep, and the nurse bees will go right back up to the brood in the mediums. Makes later manipulations easier. I will be grafting this weekend and setting hives up for the impending flow. It's late, but we are very close.
    Mistakes are the best taechers

  17. #16
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    Default Re: isolating the queen in a booming hive - just looking for any possible drawbacks

    Burns 375- Apparently your notching skills are sorely lacking or maybe you just really didn't want to try very hard for one reason or another. Yes it's easier to notch on newly drawn comb vs. old brood comb but she'll have a mix of both. Bees love to build cells on properly notched egg to 2 day old larvae. She'd end up with a nice batch of pretty even aged Queen cells.
    Go for it girl!

  18. #17
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    Default Re: isolating the queen in a booming hive - just looking for any possible drawbacks

    Update on the thread and some questions.

    So I found the queen today and placed her in a 5-frame nuc box with another frame full of nurse bees and brood, and added a frame full of pollen and a couple of frames partially with honey, but with plenty of room to allow her to continue laying. I shook two more frames of nurse bees into that box. Maybe there's not enough nurse bees to cover all the eggs/brood if she keeps laying.

    Now...is it really necessary to move her 3 miles away? I don't have any distant beeyards. Would a 3/4 mile distance be at least enough to keep the local field bees from finding her and deserting the bigger parent hive? (If I keep her in my beeyard will this draw the field bees from the bigger hive? )

    Secondly: I decided not to bother with notching. There were several patches of fresh eggs in newer comb. My understanding is the notching is more for old wax that has become hard to work and the bees don't draw it out well.

    Thirdly: how long should I keep her separate from the main hive? Until cells are capped, at which time I remove them and return the queen? She's a very productive queen and I don't want to risk losing her. I don't really like keeping her sequestered, and am wondering what the sudden removal from plenty of comb to lay in does to her. Are queens resilient in being able to resume full production when returned to their colony?

  19. #18
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    Default Re: isolating the queen in a booming hive - just looking for any possible drawbacks

    You don't have to move the nuc you made out of the original queen out of the original yard if you didn't give her an excessive amount of brood to cover. You're right. You don't have to do any notching either. They will make a lot of queen cells in the original hive. Notching is just a way of pushing the bees in the original hive to raise the best quality queens they possibly can.
    8 days from now you have to move some cells - frame and all (at least one) and _ BEES_ into your deadouts. If you move all the frames with cells and some frames of brood and some frames of feed and divide them up between your deadouts , you should be in great shape. If you make sure there aren't any cells left in the old hive you can then reintroduce the Nuc with the old queen back into the original hive if that's all the equipment you have. Make sure you put enough frames with resources into your deadouts and they don't have any more room than 1 single box. Good Luck!

  20. #19
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    Default Re: isolating the queen in a booming hive - just looking for any possible drawbacks

    Thanks for the suggestions. Reading about this makes my head spin as there are a million and one different suggested ways to do it. Your suggestions make complete sense. I will probably make 5 frame nucs to start out with, as I don't want to deplete my strong hives (need a decent honey crop).

  21. #20
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    Default Re: isolating the queen in a booming hive - just looking for any possible drawbacks

    Putting them into Nucs works too. Check that they've hatched in a week. Give at least another week to start laying. Feed some and protect from robbing. A couple frames of bees if you put them in Nucs is enough. Good Luck.

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